Whyte & Mackay debuts Shackleton blended malt

Apr 28, 2017by Annie Hayes

Whyte & Mackay has launched blended Scotch malt whisky brand Shackleton, inspired by charismatic British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who led the first expedition to the South Polar Plateau.

Shackleton set in sail in 1907 on a ship packed with 25 hand-selected cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky. He and three companions became the first to set foot on the South Polar Plateau in January 1909 – but abandoned pursuit of the South Pole as the team was close to starvation and suffering from severe exhaustion. In 2007 three cases of the whisky were uncovered, frozen into the ice beneath Shackleton’s base camp. Whyte & Mackay's master blender, Richard Paterson, analysed and re-created the whisky, and has used this as the foundation to create Shackleton. The new expression was launched at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London through a presentation led by environmental scientist, explorer, and Shackleton's global brand ambassador Tim Jarvis. In 1914, Shackleton undertook an expedition aboard the Endurance to cross the Antarctic continent from one coast to the other via the South Pole. When the ship become stuck in thick ice and eventually sunk, Shackleton's men were isolated hundreds of miles from civilisation. He and his crew realised they would have to make the journey to the nearest inhabited place – South Georgia, 800 miles away – on just a lifeboat. When they reached land, they had a further 22-mile mountain range to cross on foot before they could call for help. Four years ago, Jarvis and his team emulated the journey Shackleton undertook, ensuring the conditions were as closely matched to the original expedition as possible – from the type of boat, to the clothing they wore. "It's wonderful to have an association with Whyte & Mackay, and I mean that very sincerely," said Jarvis. "I think that this whisky is a wonderful product and a wonderful way of paying homage to Sir Ernest and also celebrate the kind of leadership that he stood for." The new blend is said to offer vanilla, toffee apple, brioche, Manuka honey and hints of Old English marmalade followed by cinnamon, banana bread and ginger cake on the nose. The palate boasts treacle toffee, Demerara sugar and sweet sultanas, with glazed pineapple, freshly baked crusted bread, and mango cake, while the finish reveals hot mulled wine, praline chocolate and Oolong tea with gentle bonfire smoke and crème brulee. "It has been a great honour to create this whisky as a testament to Sir Ernest Shackleton," said Paterson. "His character and his story remain a true inspiration, and I wanted to capture the essence of Sir Ernest within this whisky. "Like the man himself, who made his mark on the world, this whisky certainly makes a mark on the palate. The boldness and complexity to its rich character is drawn from the Highland region and echoes Sir Ernest’s dogged determination and fighting spirit for success. "A gentle bite of peat smoke reminds us of the unforgiving place he and his men found themselves in. And, in the same way a successful crew needs time to forge a bond, I allowed my creation time to marry and come together." The packaging is designed to reflect the expedition – the polar charts of the early 1900s inspire the colour, Antarctic Blue, which is used on both the presentation pack and the label. Shackleton’s navigational achievements are honoured with a compass logo, and use of the family motto 'By Endurance we Conquer'. The bottle is based on the original MacKinlay’s whisky bottle found under the ice beneath his Antarctic base camp at Cape Royds. "This momentous launch for Whyte & Mackay represents an exciting, emerging direction for Scotch whisky," said Stuart Bertram, head of whisky development brands at Whyte & Mackay. "In a personal and deeply felt project during his 50th year in the industry, Master Blender Richard Paterson has created something truly unique in Scotch whisky – a masterclass in the fine art of whisky blending. "Richard has expertly built upon the original Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt, using a handpicked selection of the best Highland Malt whiskies, allowing them to marry over a long period to create a contemporary and enigmatic blended malt which is rich, robust, with whisper of smoke." A contribution from all Shackleton whisky sales will be made to the Antarctic Heritage Trust, and will help to preserve Shackleton’s 1907 basecamp on Antarctica and support related projects. Speaking of his environmental work, Jarvis added: "A journalist said to me a number of years ago, 'Whats the real difference between your expedition and Shackleton's'? As far I'm concerned, Shackleton's goal was to save all those men from the Antarctic, and mine was to save Antarctica from man." Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky is initially available in travel retail at an RRP of £40, and will roll out on-trade and specialist retail in the UK and France in May, before extending to the US and key Asian markets China Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore in September.